Today, California Governor Brown released the May Revision of his proposed 2015-16 state budget. Here’s some quick takes–more to come later today:
THE NEED FOR MEDI-CAL RESTORATIONS AND INVESTMENTS: This budget lacks needed investments to improve Medi-Cal and the health system on which we all rely. After an expansion of Medi-Cal through almost entirely federal funds, we need added state investments to make Medi-Cal more inclusive, more streamlined, and to ensure that Californians get the care and services they need. The Governor’s budget continues to leave in place cuts to key public health programs, Medi-Cal benefits, and provider rates made during the recession. We should remember that any surplus was created in part out of $15 billion in cuts to health and human services–cuts that continue today and into the future without some reinvestment.
IMMIGRANT HEALTH CARE: We appreciate that the Governor’s recognition of California’s existing policy of ensuring Medi-Cal includes those with “deferred action” immigration status, by allocating funds for covering Californians under the President’s executive order. Immigrants are a vital part of our community and economy and should be fully included in our health system. By the same logic, the Governor and Legislature should extend Medi-Cal coverage to all income-eligible Californians regardless of immigration status, which is more cost-effective and efficient than just the emergency services provided today. In his comments, the Governor wildly overestimated what would be the cost of such an expansion; over the next few weeks, we will make the case about how this is actually a modest investment with a big benefit to our whole health system and economy.
ANTI-POVERTY EFFORTS WELCOME: We appreciate the Governor’s support of an earned income tax credit, but it needs to be part of a multi-pronged strategy to address poverty. More resources to low-income families is certainly welcome, but those dollars are at risk if the family is uninsured and one emergency away from crushing medical debt. Making Medi-Cal more inclusive gives low-income families some additional financial security in in their efforts to rise out of poverty. While we address the wall of debt, policymakers also need to break down the wall of poverty in California.